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Travel Happiness: Ways for Family Travel to Europe: Part One of Two

Travel Happiness
Ways for Family Travel to Europe
Part One of Two

It wasn't too long ago that family travel used to mean a mind-numbing summertime road trip to Grandma's or a week crammed together in a cottage perched in the midst of a mosquito breeding ground. Not anymore! Family travel today is a genuine bonding experience, often multi-generational and more and more, it's international in nature.
Europe, in fact, is becoming a highly popular family travel destination because the parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle hosting the trip is doing so because they want to give the children--regardless of their age--an unforgettable cultural and travel experience. As a result, more and more major tour operators with European itineraries are focusing on this market segment.
Understandable with products like the new Tour De France program. On this 6-night adventure, families tour the Normandy coast, get an interesting history lesson as they explore the D-Day beaches and battleground, enjoy Monet's beautiful works of art in Giverny and pay a visit to the 11th century abbey, Mont-Saint Michel. Then it's on to Paris aboard the TGV train and a dining experience in the Eiffel Tower, an artistic experience in the Louvre, a spooky experience in the dankness of the Parks Catacombs, and a soaring experience atop the observation deck in the Notre Dame Cathedral--all in all, a family adventure to remember forever.
The trend is also following a trend with Italy. Europe's big draw for three years, it's also at the top of the family travel list. Families see it all--from St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum and Forum in Rome; to Michaelangelo's David in Florence, and St. Mark's Basilica and the Doges' Palace with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. While in Venice, guests get a private boat ride and glass blowers' demonstration. Also included are stops in Pisa at the Leaning Tower and Verona to see Juliet's balcony.
What we've done is really go out and pick some Europe vacations where the inclusions make sense for families... We don't need to go out and create a Disney experience on a coach--we already know well that families are looking for. When a grandparent walks into the Sistine Chapel with their grandchild and watches his/her face as they look up at this amazing site, this makes for built-in family memories. These kids are going to be traveling with other kids and while they're seeing all these sites, they'll be forming friendships that could last into adulthood. That's what escorted does really well and that's why it fits so well within the family Europe product.
The hassle-free aspect of an escorted tour with everything pre-packaged is a big plus for a family travel experience because--if you're traveling with a group of people, the more organized and structured the program is, the easier it is for people to do what they really want to do--bond, enjoy different things that while they may appeal in different ways to different people, the structure is there so all the hassles and the worries are taken out of it.
You have a different choice for the pace of the tour--where it's active or leisure--and because you have so much flexible time to do things on your own, you've got a core of the basic program that everybody enjoys doing. And then you've got separate and individual opportunities that people with different interests can do.

...continued in the June 4, 2006 issue of the Picket News.

Art Richards is the owner of Richards World Travel, Inc. in Hagerstown. (

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